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March 09, 2011 News
Indy Lights: Newgarden Returns to North American Racing with Sam Schmidt Motorsports
 

Josef Newgarden returns to racing on home soil via a potent Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver line-up in the Indy Lights series (Photo: GP3 Series Media Services)
Josef Newgarden returns to racing on home soil via a potent Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver line-up in the Indy Lights series
(Photo: GP3 Series Media Services)

Josef Newgarden has announced he will return to North American junior formula car action in 2011, having signed to race in the Firestone Indy Lights championship with series powerhouse team Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

A year ago at this time, Newgarden was a 19 year-old living alone in a foreign country and getting ready for his first season of elite international competition in the GP3 Series - his mind firmly fixed on his ultimate goal of one day competing, and winning, in the FIA Formula One World Championship. That goal still remains as strong as ever, but Newgarden now sets out to prove that the road to F1 can go through Indianapolis. As part of a multi-car effort, the American will partner fellow rookies Victor Carbone and Esteban Guerrieri, as well as Americans Conor Daly (road courses) and Bryan Clauson (ovals) at Sam Schmidt Motorsports this season.

"I am thrilled to be joining Sam Schmidt Motorsports at this important stage of my career," said Newgarden. "I felt that Sam's organization would give me the best chance to be competitive this season; hopefully scoring race wins and competing for the championship. Sam has made me feel very welcome in his team, and I really appreciate that. Now, I just can't wait for St. Pete to get on the race track."

"I have been watching Josef's career closely for the last four seasons, and I thought we had lost another great American prospect to the European system," said Schmidt. "However, I believe the level of competition in those series will only strengthen his ability to perform in the U.S. going forward. We are very much looking forward to the opportunity of developing and promoting this young star into the INDYCAR series."

Newgarden's Indy Lights program will receive associate sponsorship from Robo-Pong, an interactive ping-pong robot that the former Team USA scholarship racer uses as part of his intensive daily conditioning program. Robo-Pong is manufactured by Newgy Industries and sold around the world. Newgarden's Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry will also be feature the FIA Foundation's MAKE ROADS SAFE campaign for global road safety, promoting it's cause and efforts over the last two years of racing in Europe. Newgarden lost his Formula Ford team owner, Joe Tandy, to a road accident in the UK less than six months after arriving on the European racing scene in 2008 ,and adopted the campaign as one of his personal causes.

The 20 year-old American from Nashville, Tenn., joins SSM following a successful career to date behind the wheel. He drove a kart for the first time at the age of 13 in 2003, and in 2006 he took titles in two classes of the Kart Racers of America. The same year he started his single-seater career in the Skip Barber Racing School series, where he finished as runner-up in the Southern Regional Series with three wins and another seven podiums. In 2008, he was the first American to win the prestigious BRSCC Formula Ford Festival (Kent class) in the 36-year history of the event as a Team USA driver. He moved to the British Formula Ford Championship in 2009, and was runner-up with nine wins, also winning two of the three races he contested in the Formula Palmer Audi Series. In 2010, Newgarden moved into the GP3 Series where he scored five top-10s.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports is the winningest squad in Indy Lights history, having captured four series title (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), and a record 37 wins.

Newgarden will join the rest of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports squad in Alabama on March 16th for official winter testing, prior to the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season getting underway on on March 27th, on the Streets of St. Petersburg.

To keep up to date with the 2011 Indy Lights entry list, please visit the EFCN Tentative Entry List discussion thread HERE
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